If you’re reading this then your ex said something that you’re struggling to understand.
This is very common after a breakup because of all the emotional turmoil involved.
To truly understand, we have to look at more than just the words they’re saying and hone in on the underlying message.
As the author of The Ex Factor Guide and breakup coach for over ten years, I’ve helped tens of thousands of people around the world reconnect with their ex so I know a thing or two about what makes your ex tick, including what they’re really saying when they say these things.
This is for those of you who want their ex back and for those who just want to move on. I’m going to cover common things an ex will say after a breakup and tell you what they REALLY mean and what this means for your future together.
What your ex means when they say…
There are three basic categories here: things that your ex said that are actually good (even though some of these might not initially seem that way), things that are negative (even when they seem good), and things that don’t actually matter and are typically just said in the heat of the moment or to try to upset the other person. Let’s get into it.
“It’s not you, it’s me”
Exes will often say this as part of the breakup process or shortly afterwards when you’re trying to get answers about what went wrong. You may feel vindicated by this answer–because they’re taking all the blame–as if you had no role in the breakup at all. This is actually their exact goal, but unfortunately they’re not telling the whole truth. Breakups are never completely one-sided.
While you may not have made some huge mistake that caused them to end things, the true reason for the breakup is still hidden. Maybe they don’t really know why they wanted to end things but you can be sure that they knew that this was the only option. This is common for exes who are hiding something, are emotionally unavailable, or who aren’t able or willing to be honest with you about the real reason.
This doesn’t mean that there was anything you could have done or that you should feel guilty for the breakup, just that they weren’t being honest when they said this to you. They were simply trying to avoid more conflict and to spare your feelings.
While this isn’t a great sign for you getting back together, it is a good sign that your ex still cares about you and wants what’s best for you so they certainly don’t hold any ill will towards you. Just don’t get your hopes up about your future together.
“I love you but I’m not in love with you”
I can understand why an ex saying something like this would be confusing, mostly because it’s borderline gibberish but there is a message here if we look deeper.
Basically the takeaway is this: I still care about you but I don’t want to be in a relationship with you. This is a very harsh outcome for someone telling you they love you but it’s the truth. Unfortunately all the good that comes with “I love you” is completely canceled out by the “I’m not in love with you” and that needs to be your takeaway here.
“I love you but it will never work”
This is similar to the last one but I do think that there’s some wiggle room here, since they’ve not expressly said that they’re not in love with you. As before, I believe them telling you that they love you is just a way of softening the blow but “it will never work” is less clear.
In most situations this just means that they want you to stop bothering them and move on with your life but there are rare situations where they’re looking for you to change their mind. Unfortunately you’ll have to feel this one out yourself by discussing this in more detail with your ex.
“I still love you”
This is another pretty common thing that an ex will say after a breakup and this one depends entirely on context. For example, if you’re talking to them and being very aggressive and needy they may say it just to get you off their back.
But in most cases–especially if your ex says this out of the blue–then this means that they either want you back right now, or they’re very seriously considering giving the relationship another try. They’re trying to let you know that they’re at least open to the idea of trying things again and if you feel the same way then you should feel good about that.
So if an ex hits you with the “I still love you” then you should consider that a green light except in very specific circumstances.
“I don’t know” when asked why things ended
Unfortunately this is typically the truth. Sometimes people will end a relationship based on a gut feeling. This is unfortunate but it’s not something that you can really fight against or fix. This is not necessarily a sign that your ex is hiding something. It can be the honest truth that they ended the relationship on instinct alone.
Don’t push them on this. I think if you explore the relationship on your own time it will become clear to you the issues you two had and how that led to the breakup. If not, then chalk it up to a lack of compatibility or issues they were having that they weren’t able to talk about.
In some cases, exes will say this when they are hiding something from you or as a way to stall for time until they can tell you their true reason. So maybe they’ve been seeing someone else or the reason they have for breaking up with you could hurt you in some way. In any case, there’s no way for you to get this information out of them if they’re not willing to give it so now is the time to back off and let them think it over.
“Leave me alone”
This is something that exes say quite often and when they say it, they mean it. This doesn’t mean “I hate you.” or “you’re a bad person” or even “never talk to me again.” They simply mean they’re trying to end this conversation and leave the situation and you need to respect that.
If someone is actively trying to get away from you and you won’t allow it, then you’ve lost control and you’re not going to get what you want in this moment.
And beyond that, if you ignore your ex’s words and continue to pester them you’re going to make them feel threatened. This is not only going to kill any chances you may have had with them going forward, it will make them truly hate you and bad mouth you to others in the future.
Not a great note to end things on, no matter what you’re looking for. So remember, if they tell you to leave them alone, you need to respect this and get away from them right away.
“I need time to think”
This is a nicer way of saying “leave me alone.” So while they’re putting less pressure on you in this situation, the message is still pretty clear: I need time and space away from you.
Whether or not they’re really thinking about the relationship or they’ve already made up their minds and just want you to leave is not entirely clear but one thing is for sure: you need to listen to them and give them their space.
“I don’t think our relationship is right for me”
So there are many variations of this one. “I love you but it just wasn’t right” or “Our relationship was the problem, not you.” And basically it boils down to this: they felt that some aspect of the relationship wasn’t working but they still care about you deeply.
So maybe you two met under less than ideal circumstances. Maybe you were in two different places in life and unable to overcome that hurdle. Maybe your relationship just moved too fast for them.
Whatever the case, this can be hard to hear from an ex because it doesn’t exactly give you something to work on for future relationships.
But there is a silver lining here. You do have a shot at a second chance with this person in the future if things change and you can come together again under more favorable circumstances. For now, simply work on yourself and try to move on and date other people for awhile.
Now if you truly want your ex back and are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen then here’s your next move: sign up for my email coaching program.
“I’d like to see you”
Here’s another one where context matters more than anything. If your ex says this out of nowhere with no prompting then you can be fairly confident that this is their true desire.
This doesn’t mean that they necessarily are ready to take you back, want to sleep with you, or that they even want to see you for romantic reasons. It simply means that they want to see you in person for whatever reason. I’d advise you to take them up on this as soon as you can as this meeting can easily turn into something more.
But I’d also advise you to play it cool and not rush into this meeting without knowing why or what it’s about. Assure them that you feel the same way and keep talking and see where it takes you.
That said, this is one where actions speak louder than words. If your ex keeps saying things like this but whenever you try to make concrete plans they’re suddenly “busy” and keep blowing you off then you need to understand that they don’t really want to see you all that much. There’s a good chance that they’re really just using you for emotional support and to feel desirable.
Breakups are hard for everyone and that includes the dumper so they may just be trying to get over this emotional pain through feeling desired by someone they once cared about. Keep this in mind the next time your ex says “I want to see you”
“I miss you”
This is something that exes will throw around pretty loosely and it can be extremely confusing to someone who was just dumped. You’re probably thinking “if you miss me then why did you decide to end things with me?” and it’s a good question.
In my mind, when your ex says this they DO mean it but they’re also using that feeling to get attention and validation from you and that’s pretty messed up given the circumstances.
So don’t think a random “I miss you” text is going to lead to you two getting back together. Chances are it’s just a sign that your ex doesn’t have great boundaries or impulse control and respond accordingly. Or better yet, don’t respond at all.
“We can be friends” or “I will always love you” or “maybe someday”
I’ve lumped all these together because, in my mind, they all fall into the same category. These are things that exes say to either let you down easy or to keep you on the hook for future manipulation. Now I’m not saying that your ex is a bad person or that they’re even deliberately manipulating you, but I am saying that, in either case, the end result is the same.
They’re dangling the possibility of getting back together, or being their friend, in front of your face in order to make you say and do the things they want, whether this is to stop pestering them about getting back together, or to keep giving them attention without asking for more, or even just to leave them alone and stop bothering them completely.
And the worst part is that they’re not even necessarily being untruthful. Maybe they do want to be your friend or they do think that you could be together down the road.
But the fact is that if you stick around and continue to dote on them and show them that you’re a good backup plan if they strike out, you’re also showing them that you lack confidence and that you’re low status and eventually, this is going to destroy any desire they have to get back together with you. So take this one as a compliment but then keep your distance from this ex or risk getting drawn into a game that you can’t win.
“I want to be single” or “I don’t want to be in a relationship”
While there are certainly some people who truly do prefer being single over being in a relationship, I have to say that when an ex says this, there’s usually more to the story. Often this is their way of letting you down easy.
What they’re really saying is “I don’t want to be in a relationship WITH YOU. Now I know this can be hurtful to hear but you came here for the truth and here it is: don’t be surprised when this person is suddenly ready for a relationship with someone else a few months after you breakup.
Now let’s finish it off with a few mean and hurtful things your ex might have said to you post-breakup that are still rattling around in your head:
“I hate you” or “I never loved you” or “It’s all your fault we broke up” or “You broke my heart” or “I will never get back together with you”
I’ve put these together because I believe that ultimately they all mean the same thing: your ex is going out of their way to make you feel sad and demoralized. First off, it takes two people to have a relationship and two people to end one so don’t let your ex pin all the problems on you alone. Second, “I never loved you” is something that people only say as an attempt to hurt your feelings. Think about it. What are the chances that they faked your whole relationship? It’s more likely that they really mean “I’m upset and angry at you and I know that saying this is the best way to make you feel the same way I do.”
And as I always say: the opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference.” If your ex truly hates you then you actually have a better chance of getting back with them then if they’re just ignoring you and pretending like you don’t exist. So don’t give up hope.
Even “We will never get back together” is more often something that an ex will say to upset you rather than the complete truth.
What Should You Do Next?
So if you’ve made it this far you’re probably asking “what should I do next? My ex is showing some interest but they ended the relationship so what’s the deal?” And this is exactly why I wrote this article. My point is that talking to your ex is always going to lead to confusing situations like this.
After a breakup you’re both very emotionally raw, you’re lonely and you’re struggling to reconstruct your shattered lives. This creates a situation where you may feel one way one minute and then an hour later you’ll feel completely different. You’re in no place to be trying to win someone’s heart, especially not your ex’s and trying to do so is just going to create problems for both parties.
RELATED: When NOT To Use No Contact
This is why I recommend No Contact to all of my clients following a breakup. This means taking space from your ex for 30 days after the breakup. Not communicating with them in any way be it via text, phone calls or on social media. No in person meetings and no conversations–conversations like these where they tell you they love you one minute and that they hate you the next. Instead, spend this time focusing on yourself, getting back to center and rebuilding your life.
Many people don’t want to give up this relationship with their ex, either because they want them back or because they feel that they need this person’s emotional support right now. I say that in either case, No Contact is your best option. No Contact allows your ex time to process the breakup so that they can understand their true feelings once and for all. And it prevents you from being drawn into situations where they manipulate your feelings in order to make themselves feel better.
At the end of the 30 days, either you’ve both realized that you want to give this another shot–in which case you can begin the process of reconnecting without the specter of the breakup hanging over your head–or you’ve realized you’re better off keeping separate in which case you’ve already begun the process of moving on.